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Arts & Crafts Bedside Table

No cutting
corners–this is
solid craftsmanship
through and through.

By Stewart Crick

Arts and Crafts is both a style
of furniture and a philosophy about
craftsmanship. It calls for honest, functional
design and a harmonious effort
between designer and craftsman.

The design of this bedside table
borrows elements from three Arts
and Crafts sources (see Arts and Crafts
Details, below). I’ve combined them
to create my own style, and built this
table using the best construction techniques
of that period.

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Arts and crafts details

Most of my work is influenced by the look and feel of Arts and Crafts
furniture. In this bedside table, I’ve added details created almost one
hundred years ago by Charles and Henry Greene, Frank Lloyd Wright,
Gustav Stickley and L. & J. G. Stickley. Arts and Crafts designers borrowed
ideas from many sources, and I have, too. I’ve used the following
elements to create my own signature style:

A. Quartersawn oak was widely used by many Arts and Crafts designers.

B. Breadboard ends, slightly raised above the main top, are common on
furniture by Greene and Greene.

C. Ebony spline often bridged joints in Greene and Greene pieces.

D. Four-sided quartersawn legs show oak’s ray fleck figure all the way
around. They were a trademark of L. & J. G. Stickley’s Mission furniture.

E. Ebony plugs were a distinctive touch of Greene and Greene furniture.
Some plugs covered screws, some covered pins that go through
mortise and tenon joints, and others didn’t cover anything–they were
placed to please the eye.

F. Square spindles are reminiscent of several Frank Lloyd Wright designs.

G. Leg indents and cloud lift profiles, inspired by Chinese furniture,
were adopted by the Greenes.

Click any image to view a larger version

Begin by gluing up the legs. Each leg is composed of four pieces
of quartersawn oak, joined by lock miters. This story also contains an entire section devoted to showing how to make and install distinctive four-sided quartersawn table legs.

Mill the rails, cut tenons on their ends, and test their fit. The tenon
on the upper rail is split in two in order to avoid weakening the leg.

Clamp the rails, spindles and panel together without glue. Then
glue the legs to this assembly.

Fit the shelf. It sits on a spline that runs the length of the lower
rail. The shelf won’t be glued, so it’s free to expand and contract.

Assemble the table in a trial run. Tap the top rail into dovetailed
sockets in the ends of both legs. When you’re sure everything fits,
glue the base.

Plane a slight hollow on the breadboard ends in order to create a
spring joint. The hollow helps ensure that the joint comes tight at
the ends and stays tight in the future.

Glue the top. Only the center portion is glued, so the core is free
to move. Screws at both ends of the joint pass through elongated
holes, also allowing the top to move.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker April/May 2009, issue #141.

April/May 2009, issue #141

Purchase this back issue.

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